A week in the life of a hotel consultant

A week in the life of a hotel consultant

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Christopher Lund, Head of Hotels for Colliers International MENA gave Hospitality News ME a fascinating day-by-day account of his busy schedule. Here’s what he said and did…

Christopher Lund specializes in hotel consulting and has been working with International Real Estate firm Colliers International in the region for over seven years. Most of his work is focused on supporting hotel developers and investors across a wide range of areas, from hospitality feasibility studies, highest and best use studies and hotel company strategies to operator selection assignments and asset management mandates (covering both pre-opening and on-going operations).

He has diarized his working week for us from week commencing Sunday May 5.

SUNDAY / TEAM MEETING
Sunday morning always starts with the hotel team’s weekly meeting. The weekly meeting allows the whole team to stay informed about each other’s projects and highlight any potential issues or areas they need help with.

Sunday is typically the only time of the week that most of the team are in one place! The rest of the week our consultants are jetting off around the region working on assignments, be it KSA, Oman, Egypt or Jordan.

11am until 5pm was action packed for me today. I had two additional internal meetings and I met with an external client about an upcoming project.

Tomorrow, I am travelling to Riyadh, so before I left the office at 6:30pm, I verified my meeting and travel schedules with Krishna our team administrator.

As soon as I got home, I had dinner, replied to a handful of emails and tended to my nightly dog-walking duties. At 10:30pm it was lights out because of my early morning flight the next day.

MONDAY / TRIP TO RIYADH
It was a 4am start on Monday morning to catch the 7am Emirates flight to Riyadh. There is so much happening in KSA at the minute; the flights from Dubai are packed with business people. In the last few months, especially, we have noticed that it is important to confirm any trips early, as you might find it hard to get a seat! The A380 aircraft being added to the route recently was a sign of the demand.

I touched down in Riyadh and passed a few familiar faces en route to immigration! It is so quick now to pass through and I am literally done at the airport in 15 or so minutes.

First stop is to our local Riyadh office in Olaya. I catch up with the guys there and carry out some additional prep work ahead of my two meetings today.

At around 11:30am, I had my first meeting. It was a ‘kick-off’ for a Market & Financial Feasibility study for a hospitality and entertainment project in Saudi. A kick-off meeting allows the team and I to understand the vision the client has for the project, to gather any necessary information that we require and affords everyone a chance to meet the individuals involved from all sides. The meeting went well, was enjoyable (very interesting project) and took approximately two hours.

The following meeting was with a client and his potential partner. Our client was pitching a business case to the potential partner for a luxury development in Riyadh city. As Colliers provided the client with a feasibility study on the proposed project, I was on hand to answer any queries. I worked closely with my colleague Saqib (back in Dubai) on this project, so he was on the phone from HQ as support.

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Shortly after my second meeting, I headed back to the airport and checked in for my flight back to Dubai. I arrived home at 2am.

TUESDAY / OFFICE DAY
I was feeling fairly tired in the morning after yesterday’s trip! First half of the day was focused on replying to emails which I missed yesterday and general office tasks.

In the afternoon, I assisted the team on some ongoing projects.

I also had a detailed catch up with Omar, our asset manager, on our asset management business and learned about some recent initiatives that he and the team are currently implementing across our portfolio of hotels to drive returns for owners.

WEDNESDAY / ON SITE
A long-term client of ours invited us for a catch up and a tour of a current project that we had worked on from the initial stage. I actually worked on the project in my early days as a consultant at Colliers and was joined on site by one of our recent graduates, Dyno.

We took a tour of the property alongside the project manager and client, discussed the plans for the project and upcoming key milestones.

It was very informative for us to spend time with the project manager, who explained how the construction team dealt with a number of issues that surfaced throughout construction period thus far.

As consultants, I feel it is very important for us to regularly visit our clients’ properties. Time spent away from the comfort of our desks and excel spreadsheets, be it in a hotel or on a construction site, helps us to truly understand the issues our clients face every day.

THURSDAY / WORKSHOP
Thursday was spent in a workshop to discuss a Highest and Best Use Study for a project in Jeddah. The project is a collaboration between the Colliers Jeddah team and our regional hotels team based here in Dubai.

The workshop was in Dubai, so our Jeddah team flew in for the meeting, along with support from our Riyadh office as well.

The Colliers team presented our consolidated findings from our research of the Jeddah market to the client and discussed various options for the development from office, retail and hotel asset classes. We presented a financial assessment of all options and discussed our assumptions at length with the client, who challenged us on our positions. The meeting was long, but given the breadth of the project and the number of options, the time spent was warranted. We agreed with the client to run some further analysis and to revert accordingly.

When the meeting finished, I worked from home for the later part of the afternoon and closed out the week. I took a few minutes to think back on the past five days and was fairly happy with how it went. I was looking forward to the weekend to recharge the batteries, ahead of doing it all again next week!

www2.colliers.com

Christopher Lund
Colliers International
Head of hotels

There is so much happening in KSA at the minute; the flights from Dubai are packed with business people. In the last few months, especially, we have noticed that it is important to confirm any trips early, as you might find it hard to get a seat

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